Her hair bounced as she vigorously nodded her head. She was deeply engaged in conversation with her friend, who kept laughing at her whilst flashing her endearing looks. He understood why she made that expression, he wanted to be able to look at her like that, too, but he didn’t even know her name. Apparently, the conversation had taken a turn; she was now looking down at the table with a troubled look, fidgeting with her bracelet, before shifting her gaze upwards again and showing an awkward smile. It was one of her many smiles that made him fall in love with her; a smile where just one corner of her mouth curled up before slightly opening it to let out a huff of air with one of her eyebrows raised.

He remembered it clearly, the first day he saw her. It had been freezing cold that day and the snowfall made one think a blizzard had come into town. She had entered, covered up from head to toe, wearing a hat the size of a small cub and a fluffy scarf that would be best described as a fox’s tail wrapped around her slender neck. All that was visible of her face were her red nose and glistening eyes. She almost tripped when she ran into the small coffee shop, panting ever so slightly when taking off her wet coat and fuzzy accessories. She strode over to an empty seat and took out her laptop, notebook, and pen. Before moving to do anything at all, she stared out of the window, looking at the snow falling, and flashed a smile. A smile that contained a mix of happiness and sadness, a smile that he couldn’t quite understand, but also a smile he was intrigued about. When she got to work, her expression became more stern and serious as she concentrated, but it was broken time by time by a short glimpse of satisfaction. So short, it would go unnoticed if one wasn’t paying attention. His heart warmed more and more every time.

She came more times after that. Sometimes alone, sometimes taking along company, but always bearing her smiles. With every new one, he fell deeper into this unknown, newly developed feeling. Wednesdays and Fridays were when she would usually visit, he had noticed. He started looking forward to those days throughout the week, started to dress nicely when going to work. His family and friends gave him questioning looks when he applied cologne before leaving and when he said he really needed new shoes after walking in the same ones for five years. Life looked rosier, as if the sun had started shining again after years of living in a world engulfed by darkness. And the rays breaking through the thunder clouds were her laughter, the curled up corners of her mouth, and sparkling eyes.

But still, he knew nothing of her and she nothing of him. When that realization hit, that she knew naught of him outside of his working at her favourite coffee shop, the dark crept back in. A lump would form in the back of his throat as he battled against the anxiety. In contrast with the brightness of the days, she graced him with her presence; the days where he missed her felt like a new type of gloom. The desolated feeling that invited itself into his life was like a new enemy who pulled a grey-toned filter over his everyday activities.

Until, one day, he stayed back late, all alone, in the now empty store, forcing the sadness back, as the door opened, and a figure walked in. He barely looked up to greet the guest but noticed they stood still right in front of him. Curiously, he looked up, and there she was.

Bearing a new smile.

“Hi, my name is Elaine, would you like to have a coffee with me?”